Roku 3 vs Roku 4: Which Streaming Player Should You Get?

There are a lot of great streaming devices on the market, ranging from Roku to Apple TV to Chromecast to Amazon Fire TV to… you get the point. With so many options, it can be difficult to choose the best device for you. This becomes especially difficult when you consider the various models that each product line offers. Today, we’re going to look at one of the most popular devices, the Roku, and compare two of Roku’s most popular models, the Roku 3 and Roku 4. Keep reading for our full Roku 3 vs Roku 4 comparison.

Roku has a lot of different models on the market, so it’s understandable if you have become somewhat confused. The Roku 3 is perhaps the most popular model yet, with the Roku 4 following closely behind. We thought it would be helpful to compare Roku 3 vs 4 in detail to help you get a better idea of the key differences and pros/cons of each device. Let’s get started!


Roku 3 vs Roku 4: Features

Roku 3 vs 4

Roku 3 features:

  • Over 2,000 channels to choose from
  • Watch in full 1080 HD
  • Voice search
  • Gaming enabled
  • Works on any TV with an HDMI port
  • Dual core processor
  • Quick and responsive
  • Intuitive and easy to use

Roku 4 features:

  • Over 2,500 channels to choose from
  • Watch in up to 4K resolution (4 times the resolution of full HD)
  • Voice search
  • Gaming enabled
  • Works on any TV with an HDMI port
  • Quad core processor and upgraded RAM
  • Quick and responsive
  • Intuitive and easy to use

As you can see here, the biggest difference Roku 3 and 4 is the 4K streaming ability on the Roku 4. If you’re not familiar with it, 4K is the best resolution you can get for watching your favorite content, offering 4x the resolution as found in standard HD (1080p). However, keep in mind that you’ll need a 4K compatible TV in order to watch 4K content, even with the Roku 4.


Does 4K Streaming Matter?

4K streamingAs mentioned, the ability to stream in 4K is the main difference between Roku 3 and 4. When the Roku 4 first came out, 4K content was very limited. Only a handful of services even offered the ability to stream in 4K, so having a 4K-compatible Roku wasn’t really necessary.

Today, that’s all changed. While the majority of content is still 1080p, more and more shows and movies are available in 4K. Some of the best Roku channels now offer some 4K content. For instance, many Netflix Originals (movies and TV shows) are now offered in stunning ultra-HD. Amazon Prime also offers a fair amount of 4K content. And Hulu is jumping on the bandwagon, with several Hulu Originals now streaming in 4k.

Recently, even LIVE TV has been rolling out in 4K. fuboTV, a sports-focused streaming platform, recently launched 4K channels for several sports networks, though they’re still in beta.

To add to this, most TVs nowadays are built for 4K compatibility. So unless you have an older TV or a budget new TV, it’s likely your television is 4K-enabled.

In short: There are more ways to watch 4K content on Roku than ever before, and 4K availability will continue to expand. 4K really does look better than 1080, so if you’re looking to get the best quality picture, and a future-proof device, the Roku 4 is likely a better choice.


Roku 3 vs 4: Performance

As you can see, the Roku 4 has the upgraded quad core processor, as well as a significant upgrade in RAM. This upgraded hardware is mainly added to support 4K streaming, which is more resource-intensive. For everyday streaming (such as watching live TV on Roku) and in regards to the speed at which you can browse and launch videos, the two devices are fairly similar.

There have been a few Roku speed tests done comparing the Roku 3 and Roku 4, and for the most part, the conclusion has been that while some apps run a bit faster on the Roku 4, most run at about equivalent speeds on both devices.

In some customer reviews, people noted more performance issues and glitches with the Roku 4. We didn’t experience these issues first-hand, but many users have.


Roku 3 vs Roku 4: Value

The Roku 3 is offered at a retail price of $99.99, although given that it’s an older device, it’s generally available for a bit less. The Roku 4 is priced at $129.99.

In terms of value, the two devices are both great choices. If you want 4K streaming, the Roku 4 is a must (4K compatibility is the biggest difference between Roku 3 and 4). If you don’t have a 4K TV and don’t plan to have one in the future, the Roku 3 is a better value at a lower price.


Customer Reviews of Roku 3 and 4

What does the “wisdom of the crowd” say about these two devices?

On Amazon, the Roku 3 has earned 4.3 out of 5 stars at the time of this publication. Meanwhile, the Roku 4 has a significantly lower rating, currently ranked at a 3.6 out of 5 stars. 

The biggest complaints about the Roku 4 include glitches and loud fan noises. It appears that only some units are afflicted by these issues, but it’s certainly worth noting.


Roku 4 vs Roku 3: Bottom Line

In the end, both the Roku 3 and Roku 4 are great devices. The Roku 3 remains one of the top-rated streaming devices, despite its age. Overall, the Roku 3 is generally our top recommendation, unless you specifically want the ability to stream in 4K. Both are among the best streaming devices on the market.

Some folks may argue about the “future proof-ness” of the Roku 4, which is a valid point. Perhaps it would be wise to get a newer device that has a faster processor and 4K capabilities. However, consider this: if you do not currently have a 4K TV, if you ever get one in the future, it will most likely be a smart TV – which may just erase your need for a Roku device altogether. In fact, Roku technology is often implemented into smart TVs nowadays, with approximately 25% of smart TVs produced today offering Roku technology.

So, the bottom line is this: if you currently have a 4K TV, the Roku 4 is likely worth the upgrade. If you do not have a 4K TV, stick with the cheaper, older, but still lightning-fast Roku 3.

Click here to purchase the Roku 3, or click here to check out the Roku 4.

Thanks for reading our comparison of the Roku 3 vs Roku 4 – be sure to let us know if you have any questions!